NSHSS College Student Back to School Survey

Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

With mental health issues front and center in the news, a new national survey of incoming and matriculating college students conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) shows that the majority (74.5%) anticipate experiencing mental health issues themselves and/or that those around them will be affected. The survey also speaks to how stressed students feel about preparing for back to school today vs. one year ago.

Likely reflecting today’s climate of pressure and ambiguity, more than half of the students surveyed (52.8%) said that preparing for the 2021 fall semester was somewhat or much harder and more stressful this year than in the 2020 school year. Less than one quarter (21.7%) said it was about the same and 6.7% said it was much easier and less stressful.

When asked if they anticipated having mental health issues at school, nearly 75% said yes – 17.2% for themselves, 13.1% for those around them (roommates, classmates, professors, etc.), and 44.1% for both. Only one quarter (25.5%) said that they did not. Yet, the vast majority (82.1%) said they were clear on where to go for mental health support. 

“There has always been a stigma associated with mental health and these students have the candor and the courage to treat it openly like any other health issue. It’s encouraging that while so many anticipate having to deal with mental health issues, the vast majority know where to go for mental health support,” said James Lewis, NSHSS President. “As the school year gets underway with continued uncertainty and unpredictability, we need to be sure those resources are easy to find, easy to use, and easy to share with other students.”

Students were also asked what they were looking forward to the most about going back to school. Anecdotally, most answers consisted of meeting new people, having a fresh start, making new friends, and learning new things.

“Students are telling us loud and clear that they want a new beginning with social interaction and new learning opportunities. They are excited about their futures and eager to be engaged in their college experiences,” added Lewis.

NSHSS recently celebrated its Mental Health Awareness Scholarship recipients, who are working to advance awareness and education to reduce the stigma sometimes associated with mental health issues.

About This Survey

The NSHSS College Student Back to School Survey was distributed to its more than 350,000 college age student members nationwide. The survey was open for three weeks from July 15 to August 8, 2020, during which time 290 students answered the questions. Rising college freshman make up 78.5% of the responses, followed by 12.2% rising sophomores.

About National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS)

NSHSS is the premier international honors and scholarship program co-founded by Claes Nobel, a member of the Nobel Prize family, and James Lewis. NSHSS offers a lifetime of benefits, pairing the highest performing students worldwide with college scholarships, events, connections, internships, and career opportunities that begin in high school and carry on through college and careers. For more information, connect with NSHSS on Facebook or Twitter.


Back to NSHSS press